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Central Asia studies.

There is no use pretending that we all know about time and space, or rather history and geography'--Edward W. Said. (1)


Obvious and reassuring polarizations between rich and poor, grandeur and squalor, light and dark, and order and chaos have become translated into contrastive analyses of relationships between the West and Central Asia. When the latter region appears in western media, it tends to do so as a shadowy region of crime, disreputability, authoritarian leadership, political corruption and incipient decay. This region therefore enjoys a specific and resonant position in those folk-taxonomic schemas that so characterize life in West. On the other hand, Central Asia is noted for its great rivers, mountain ranges and routes and highways, and not least among these the ancient Great Silk Route running from western China to Europe. Indeed, the decline of Central Asia is usually associated with the gradual loss of importance of the Silk Road along which Marco Polo journeyed to Cathy in 1271. Following Vasco de Gama's successful pioneering of a naval route to India via the Cape of Good Hope in 1497, a century later, these land routes across Central Asia had fallen into disuse. Economic decline was accompanied by social stagnation due to the persistence of traditional clan and extended family social structures, the gap between nomads and sedentarists, and arguably the absence of a new centralizer of the stature of Genghis Khan's descendant, Tamerlane.

A selected number of histories, geographies and perceptions of the region within Central Asia Studies use the above as a point of departure. The discipline however contains many other fundamental foundations, and it is a field that is contested.

The thrust of this paper's engagement has the primary aim of illuminating the contested foundations of certain aspects of Central Asia Studies. To understand these foundations is in part to understand a field of study that gathers around projected knowns.

As a sovereign field of study, Central Asia Studies omits and avows. it asserts a particular linear logic, it insists on demarcation and it demands disciplined constraint. Moreover, it is a field of study that is saturated with research on state building, on ethnic identity politics and linear historical accounts of the region, and it is a field of study that silently omits. An example of omission is analyses of social class relations, including non-Marxist. For instance, clear class boundaries that demarcate those with cultural, social and economic capital, resources held in abundance by the ruling political class and those without in Central Asia are largely absented. In-depth analyses of the class relations between factory worker and owner, between farmer and landowner are shorn of the social class dynamic. Moreover, notions of a structured oligarchy in the region is largely absent along with analyses of local imperialisms, for instance, of local rulers complicit in steering their county's economy to the benefit of outside interests, such as major corporations.

By spotlighting the positioning of a range of markers, settlements of meaning, core research interests and a range of privileged, analytical concepts deposited over the past two decades or so this paper's approach is intended to trace the primary angles and shapes of the discipline's scaffolding, to trace its brushstrokes up to a medium range distance. The theoretical motion of this paper, then, occupies a modest space where enquiry into wider chronological histories is limited. It is a space moreover that seeks no more than a medium-range explanatory position--ie one that does not engage Central Asia Studies in its entirety, but one that, for instance, locates a number of contemporary and post- positions within the field. In this sense, Central Asia Studies can constitute a manageable category.

I could have taken a different path by engaging in a series of Central Asia Studies conferences in the hope that resulting dialogue between conference delegates withdrawn from the everyday pressures of their academic environments, just as the storytellers of the Manas, the thousand-year-old Kyrgyz epic trilogy withdrew from the fields, would lead to an understanding of the discipline. I decided otherwise. I would also be departing in a different direction if I were to attempt to iron out the contradictions between the field's preoccupations by artificially constructing an unprocessed development, or by explaining the discipline in its petty two-dimensionality. That is, forming general synthetic concepts based on its primary characteristics--in most cases only intuitively grasped--and proceeding by deduction from these generalizations. In some respects, this method would remain abstract and in danger of leading to arbitrary intellectual constructs. An unappetizing thought, about as appetizing as a tinned salad.

As a point of departure, I would rather make the general observation that Western scholarly activity on Central Asian affairs in the main claims levels of certainties and offer a fixed inventory of forms and practices. In opposition, there is already that body of scholars primed, armed with nightsticks and waiting in ambush, their long shadows spilling over into the college courtyard, including Chomsky, who question these levels of certainty in the social sciences. (2) Nevertheless, it is more apposite to begin with Kuhn.

As we know, Kuhn's basic paradigm model claims that what passes for knowledge at any given time in the history of a discipline is not objective but 'paradigm dependent.' However, the significant Kuhnian point that this paper marks is the one where paradigm activity is seen to 'mitigate theoretical diversity,' (3) and no less so within the field of Central Asia Studies. Theoretical enquiry can also undoubtedly be impeded in other ways. For instance, feminist methodologies flagged by such critics as Gita Sen and Caren Grown, were once peripheralized from the core concerns of International Relations because of the political organization of the academy, which diluted enquiry into masculine power. (4)

Within this preamble, we can also note like Daniel Yergin how intellectuals and arguments compete for influence, and why one particular perspective can move from being in the ascendancy (hegemonic) to the margins (dissenting). (5) One of the primary domains in which theories compete to 'turn heads' in the form of debate, discussion and research is notably within the academy and in sister organizations and research institutes. Such activity selects and promotes selected perspectives, while others are relegated or simply omitted. With this in mind, one could take, for example, the theoretical acuity that analyses Central Asia as part of an international oligarchic structure. This thesis argues that the contemporary international system is anti-democratic and oligarchic in structure, a perspective that should not be confused with the structuralist/path-dependency and agent-based explanation of the resilience of authoritarianism in Central Asia. We can add feminist methodologies as a further example along with the theoretical curve that positions Central Asian relations within theories of local imperialism. The last two perspectives occupy a peripheral space in studies on Central Asia, although due to the creditable efforts of feminist scholars, feminist concerns have made significant inroads into the discipline. Nevertheless, there remains scant literature on the position of Central Asia within an international oligarchic structure. It is simply omitted, as if Aristotle, Pareto and Michels have been airbrushed out of the picture.

Narratives on Central Asia encode their texts with distinctive regional references and with descriptive analytical qualities that distinguish them from other forms of discourse: a specialist language for a specialist topic. This narrative furthermore must hold together as a credible sequence of events; to make sense in Central Asian regional terms it has to conform to narrative fidelity, to match the analytical values dominant in the field. (6) What is narrated, narratology (7) is usually a chronological sequence of markers. These markers or particular trajectories represent explanations of how Central Asian events occur.

Organizing data as facts in logical relationships in part characterizes the Central Asia paradigm as narrative, a narrative that resonates with these relationships, relationships which are symbolic markers, and markers that have sequence and meaning for the Central Asia community of Western scholars. The Central Asia narrative is a narrative that represents a series of pre-eminent but constrained analyses, a restricted arc where selected privileged conceptualizations--oil/gas, authoritarianism, ethnicity, clantocracy--peer down at the excluded text, the extra-mural and silent Central Asia narrative. A prime example of exclusion is the silent post-Soviet, class relations analysis at the level of political consciousness (rather than the entire Soviet canon which was predicated on rigid class lines). A useful point to make here is that although the environmental lawyer Eric Sievers, who edited the English language version of Ecostan News and Deniz Kandiyoti, and Tomohiko Uyama and others have explored the social impact of post-communist transformation, the gestation of protest movements, and the situation of urban and rural workers and environmental degradation in contemporary Central Asia, none have done so at the level of post-Soviet class relations. (8)

Field activity adds layers of meaning to the Central Asia text. The narrator modifies the manner of relating Central Asian affairs within a perceived problematic in order to clarify content and enhance the credibility and interests of the text. This process is distinguishable in two primary ways: first, for its containment within regional and nation-state boundaries, and second, for its restricted coding process whereby the text is finalized by ideological preferences. We hear the scholar-narrator's voice through selection and then emphasis, and then analysis and form. Simply put, the scholar can covertly encode privileged situations, for example of liberalism over socialism, anthropology over sociology. Such activity contributes to the making of the encoded and enclosed Central Asia field.

However, appearances can deceive, for despite such enclosures the Central Asia field remains pliable in its sub-textual structure. The mainstream Central Asia narrative motors a sequence of procedures where the Western liberal scholar/narrator is positioned as ontologically preponderant. These paper beings lay theoretical scents as part of a series of internal focalizations; the sub-text here reflects the scholar-narrator. Enveloping these focalizations is the wider topography of Central Asian studies, with its foreshores and backwaters, its beacons and low-lying hills, and its omissions: local imperialism, other than the Soviet type, (9) shifting borders, slippage, representations of non-chronological socio-political phenomena, and scattered orders.

(Re) presentations of Central Asian, socio-political phenomena are thus encoded with exclusions or structural omissions. Concerning the post-Soviet devastation of working class women's rights in education, for instance, a critical tour will not unearth a serious body of published research in Western academic journals on Central Asia. In addition, and with the exception of Feride Acar's and Ayse Gunes's research, (10) where is a body of competent research that offers a (re)presentation of the status of working class women in contemporary post-Soviet Central Asia in comparison with Soviet Central Asia? This unploughed terrain largely remains a silent field away from the core concerns of the Central Asia paradigm. The working class Central Asian woman at the level of political consciousness is not represented in the academic literature of, for example, Marianne Kamp, Colette Harris, Yvonne Corcoran-Nantes, and Mary Buckley, even though they have published influential monographs with academic presses in the past. (11)

Relevant articles indeed appear regularly in specialized journals such as the Central Asian Survey, Asian Studies Review, Central Asia and the Caucasus, and Europe-Asia Studies, but none, none have dealt with the status of the working class Central Asian woman, particularly at the analytical level of political consciousness. Simply put, the condition of the Central Asian working class in the post-Soviet region has not formed a research settlement. It is not viewed as authentic analytical activity. If there are those institutional scholars who disagree with this point, one can only answer by stating that if this is not the ease, where are the publications on the Central Asian working class as a working class, those people who form the absolute and overwhelming majority of the citizens of the region?

Mainstream paradigm activity affirms scholarly authenticity, but in terms that are dialogical: authenticity is created in the process of analyzing; it is not a precondition of such activity. This authenticity has an affinity with liberalism, the liberalism of 'neutrality'--scholarship viewed within the paradigm as neutral, dispassionate activity with liberalism used as a marker of progress, of rationalization and modernization. Such scholarly activity needs to create some standard of what is 'higher,' otherwise it could not discriminate between its own and other texts. However, standards are not anchored, and ongoing revision requires constant dialogical vigilance and affirmation.

Bauman's point is relevant at this juncture. He posits that scholars very often fail to understand the field rhetorics that they have appropriated. Thus, they may not be aware of 'how the texts carry assumptions embedded in these rhetorics.' (12) It seems inescapable that mainstream research enhances the legibility of the Central Asia paradigm by adding conventional field rhetorics. However, institutional scholars of Central Asia face the dilemma of only being able to question the community consensus assumptions of the Central Asia framework by using its very own field rhetorics, those ephemeral cogs of the paradigm itself, those cogs of self-reference. The scholar on Central Asian affairs thus cannot escape this structured, preferred reality.


Quel Asie centrale? Central Asia is constantly reinterpreted, restructured, and (re)presented. Central Asia is a perceived area that rolls about with every roll of a ship, like a cargo that has worked loose. Nevertheless, analysts on Central Asian affairs continually assign Central Asia a consensus cartographic space, a strategic framework usually with a focus on the 'stans': Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan (Azerbaijan is allowed on the margins). In this view, the 'stans' are less actors in their own right than objects of other's action. One can arguably get a clearer picture of these post-Soviet states and their connections with neighboring countries if the South Caucasus republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia and referenced, a political-cartographic conceptualization, then, with cultural, historical and regional antecedents.

The Caucasus, as one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse regions in the world, is a turbulent choking point where Europe and Asia converge. The events of the 1980s, when the bipolar world and the Cold War were ending and the Soviet Union was disintegrating, (re)situated the ancient region as a political hotbed once again.

The three south Caucasian states of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are entering a critical phase of state building. Georgia continues to take steps away from the regional hegemon, Russia, although with great difficulty as the 2008 conflict between the two countries and Moscow's recognition of 'independence' for Georgia's two breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia bear witness. Georgia's primary aim is membership of NATO (refused in 2007). Azerbaijan on the other hand is close to Turkey who supports it whole-heartedly over the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. Turkey also provides military training to the Azeri army and indeed to Georgian border guards. Turkey has no diplomatic relations with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. There are also years of enmity between the two states over the alleged massacre of thousands of Armenians. Armenia also stands directly within the Russian sphere of interest and both countries enjoy cordial relations. This is reflected in Armenia's preferable treatment in arms purchases from Russia.

In general, the Central Asian states play a more significant role in the international politics of Central Eurasia because of their enormous resource base, especially oil and gas. One major difference between the two is that the South Caucasus republics have clearer concepts of national identity. Central Asia furthermore remains the key component in understanding the geopolitical and geostrategic trajectories in Central Eurasian affairs. However, the two Central Eurasian sub-regions overlap at some crucial points. For example, parts of Central Asia were included in the early Islamic caliphates, while South Caucasian history is very much tied to Middle Eastern history. Moreover, the South Caucasus states and to a lesser degree those in Central Asia are interested in the Arab-Israeli or Palestinian-Israeli conflicts and this concern affects their relations with states in the Middle East. Both the South Caucasus states and Central Asian states seek Arab investment and Israeli technological know-how. (13) Kazakhstan has in the past mediated between Teheran and Tel Aviv and Kazakhstan had previously enjoyed a close security relationship with Israel, on issues ranging from policy coordination on Iran to countering weapons proliferation. (14)

Though not part of its heartland and situated on the periphery of Central Asia and adjacent to the South Caucasus is the North Caucasus region, the most ethnically diverse region of the Russian Federation, containing seven autonomous republics and dozens more nationalities. The region was enclosed within the Russian Empire in the 1860s, decades after Poland and Georgia. it has a mainly Muslim population, which has become more estranged from Moscow's rule over the past twenty years or so, mainly because of economic problems, the war in Chechnya and Islamic radicalism. The region's seven autonomous republics are Adygeia, Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachai-Cherkessia, and North Ossetia. With a pro-Moscow regime in Groznyy, Chechnya is gradually stabilizing itself with back up by Russian military forces. Dagestan (the word means 'land of mountains' in Turkic languages) occupies a cartographic space in the northeast of the Caucasus mountain range, bordering the Caspian Sea to the East, Chechnya to the west and Georgia and Azerbaijan to the south. It is Russia's most ethnically diverse region, with at least 36 constituent nationalities. Islamic militants pushed out from Chechnya continue to operate against Russian forces there and gangland violence is prevalent. Along with Kabardino-Balkaria, Dagestan is the major hotspot of the North Caucasian insurgency.

While some analysts link Central Asia with the mosaic of Islamic culture, usually with a 'radical' attachment (15) compared to its old Soviet days when Islam was 'under control,' (16) other trajectories enclose Central Asia with the major regional players: Iran, Russia, Turkey and now China.

These examples are indicative of attempts at drawing borders around a region that can tend to obscure rather than enlighten. Is Central Asia a disjointed community, or simply an extension of the Turkic world, a supple spine of a new, post-Soviet Greater Eurasia? Is Central Asia a group of geographically proximate countries inextricably tied to Russia in most things? Is Central Asia at the core of Central Eurasia, or a Greater Eurasia? A geographist conception of a Greater Eurasia can include all the above, along with India and which, according to the complexity-informed approach of Robert Cutler, 'stretches from Spain to Sakhalin and Spitzbergen to Singapore.' (17) Central Asia, then, is a porous conception, and remains ensnarled within shifting geographist, or ideological positions, an open-ended and contested territorial categorization. Central Asia Studies syllabi in this sense are in the main partially blinkered because they take for granted basic evolutionary geographical divisions.

Daniel Power's and Naomi Standen's work (18) challenged the unconscious spatial frameworks that condition the way analysts perceive the Eurasian world, just as Barbara Adams did in her Timescapes of Modernity. (19) Martin Lewis and Karen Wigen, furthermore, re-examined the basic geographical divisions we take for granted, including First World versus Third World, and the sevenfold continental system. They argued that such divisions were simplistic and misconceived. Their study reflected both on the global scale and on its relationship to the specific continents of Europe, Asia and Africa- actually part of one contiguous mass. This work sheds light on how our metageographical assumptions grow out of cultural concepts: 'how the first continental divisions developed from the classical times; how the Urals became the division between the so-called continents of Europe and Asia; how countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan recently shifted macroregions in the general consciousness.' (20) The analysis also explores the way new economic regions, the end of the Cold War, and the proliferation of communication technologies change our understanding of the world. There is the potential therefore to stimulate reflexive thinking about the role of large-scale spatial constructs as driving forces behind particular conceptions of the Central Asian region. Such a theoretical trajectory can be seen in basic Hegelian terms as part of a pre-emergent development, a reworking of space-time configurations or timescapes.

What is clear is that Central Asia thus has not developed with settled borders. New political geography, including cultural geography is part of an emerging pattern in studies on Central Asia. Modern political geography has extended beyond the imperial and military geopolitics that dominated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, established by figures such as Mackinder (21) but it remains restricted. It is still concerned with the roles of nation-states within the wider global economy, and it is tied to the forging of national, regional and local identities and the roles played by different ethnic groups.

Worthwhile explorations of the contemporary politics of Central Asia need at the least to emphasize some of these significant, salient geographist points, points to be factored-in along with a series of shifting context(s), within a pattern that is cross-referenced with interlinking pre-emergent research developments. In this way a viable geoeconomic as well as a geocultural space can be thrown into the paradigmatic mix. But if the class dynamic, if analyses of oligarchy, and of local imperialism as organizing concepts remain omitted, then such cross-referencing and interlinking will continue to be incomplete.

The study of Central Asia is in other spaces seen as a logical addendum to Middle Eastern studies, with a select few scholars traversing both the Central Asia field and its sister field, Middle East Studies. (22) More often than not, Central Asia is collapsed into a Greater Middle East, consisting of North Africa, Arab and non-Arab Middle East, and Central Asia and the Caucasus. (23) Thus, the borders of a Greater Middle East stretch from Morocco on the Atlantic coast to the shores of the Black, Caspian, Arabian and Red seas. This unhelpful conception encloses three distinct regional conceptualizations, namely, the Middle East, Central Asia (with Afghanistan and Pakistan) and Central Eurasia (primarily Central Asia and the Caucasus and the main regional powers: Turkey, Iran, Russia, and China and increasingly India).

However, a reverse situation is just as theoretically viable wherein redeployed cartographic lines situate the Middle East within a Greater Eurasia, or more accurately, West Asia is situated in an inner peripheral, (re)positioned cartographic space outside of the geostrategic Central Eurasian core. A core, that is, (re)defined by its redeployed geographist status and not by notions of a capitalist metropolitan core, as in the underdevelopment theory sense of the term. Thus, Turkish-Middle Eastern relations, for instance, can be collapsed into a wider space, an alternative, redeployed cartographic trajectory: Greater Eurasia. Seen in this context Turkey's role in the Middle East can be reconfigured to take account of this repositioning of a Greater Eurasia (with Central Asia at its core) into a more privileged conception. There is, after all linkage: the Middle East's strategic and cultural connectivities with Central Asia, including the dual roles of the Central Asian and Middle Eastern powers--ie iran and Turkey. We can also add Russia's presence in both regions, energy politics, Syria's close relations with Iran, and a trajectory of strategic alignments in West Asia that do not just overlap with those in Central Asia but also at times run parallel. There are also of course ancient, medieval and contemporary historic links, from the presence of Greek, Roman, Persian and Byzantium and Ottoman empires, to Islam, Revolution and cultures, or particular civilization phenomena that formed the point of departure for Lewis no less, and for the Lewis-inspired civilizations paradigm of Huntington. There is also the well-known linkage Edward W. Said provides in questioning the discourse of Orientalists, and the actual purpose of Middle Eastern Studies, as a policy-oriented approach that facilitates imperialism and colonialism. (24) From this perspective, the region once known as Turkistan has simply been renamed Central Asia in the context of the neo-Orientalist process in policy-oriented academia. Some scholars working with policy-based institutions such as think tanks, governmental and non-governmental entities are at the forefront of this neo-imperialist approach, and these institutions, including interest groups operate as a bridge between academia and the policy-oriented world.

This point notwithstanding, new political geography now occupies an emergent space in researching Central Asia, including focuses on the impact of globalization, the debt crisis and economic structural adjustments (transition economies) and regional groupings. Analysis in other research spaces shifts down to the national scale, examining, for example, spatial inequalities and issues of urbanization and land reform. While these topics would be found in any standard development text, new geography places a greater emphasis on the role played by social movements for change. It also has the potential, yet unproven, to locate revolution in a non-chronological theoretical environment. The Iranian revolution in 1979 could be a case in point. In general, the contemporary Central Asia field has yet to settle at this point, just as it has failed to reach other shores that re-focus attention on the theoretical history of Central Asia. This is a major absence in the whole panoply of Central Asian studies and remains a damning indictment of Western institutional scholars engaged in Central Asia Studies. An exhaustive trawl of all research projects on Central Asia has not found one single piece of published research.

Yet in other locations, strong theoretical currents do flow within the Central Asia field, currents that indicate integrated approaches to Central Asian development by focusing on both historical processes of social transformation and the effects of planned policy interventions. These currents highlight the links between international changes, the policy environment, responses and the forms of organization of social actors at the grassroots level, agrarian transformations, rural livelihoods, urban development and industrialization and sustainability. Specific development issues such as education, technology, and environment constitute parallel discourses.

The Central Asia paradigm is color-coded: from Soviet red to the green of Islam and the myriad of contrasting colors and symbols on the national flags of Central Asian states. It is also constitutes a network of multi-channel communications for which active scholarly and departmental participation is essential if the required readings for students and postgraduates of Central Asian affairs is to fulfill its aim: to provide necessary theoretical and factual information for research and discussion.

The field is layered with sets of (re)presentations emanating from scholarship-centers in a process of continual adjustment to pre-emergent developments. Some scholars pay attention to these adjustments; indirectly or directly it can affect their careers within the academy. This is the human face of the paradigm, no less, but a visage still usually intent on traversing a straight chronological line, a terrain with established settlements and unreflective liberal rationalizations, despite adjustments.

Past, unreflective mainstream scholarship on the collapse of the Soviet Union for instance, (25) and a whole swathe of mainstream scholarship on post-Soviet Central Asia in general (26) has backgrounded class and oligarchic relations in their studies on the region. Social class relations more particularly remain not only marginalized but also more often jettisoned on core studies on the Central Asian states and the region. (27) They are cast out or put into a box with the legend printed on it: 'not to be opened by scholars of any persuasion'. The social and economic history of the Silk Route has fared little better. (28)

A lack of attention to spatial concerns is also evident in the bulk of mainstream research. Rather than treating the theoretical span occupied by space as an analytical platform of departure worthy of being an equal partner to international and regional history, this consideration has traditionally been relegated to a neutral place, in effect to a kaleidoscope of socio-historical Central Asian relations that are analyzed outside of this consideration. Space is presumably viewed as not being a concrete, linear material essence. A different perspective is however offered from a constructivist point of view, where excluding the spatial from the social is seen as a hypothesis error because space is seen as socially constructed. Lived Central Asian relations are marked within an alternative, constructivist trajectory which acknowledges that without consideration of the spatial connotations which society in Central Asia revolves around we can never fully understand the internal or domestic struggles over space, neither can we appreciate fully the constructed world politics space. (29) While these points are useful, the social dimension of space has not been analyzed in terms of class relations, despite the potential to do so in past socio-anthropological studies by, for example, Maria Louw, Jeff Sahadeo and Russell Zanca, which examined the daily life of ordinary Central Asians. (30)

In new political geography, the social dimension of space is highlighted in studies of scales, the levels of spatial representation that we use constantly in social analyses. For example, the post-geopolitics school in political geography position the local, national, or global scales that we are all familiar with not as pre-given, but socially constructed: temporary stand-offs in a perpetual transformative socio-spatial power struggle, or as provisional geographical resolutions of power struggles that are historically produced, stabilized and transformed. On the other hand, political geography has shown little inclination to operationalize the concept of class relations within sociospatial struggles.

We need to pause at this stage, for a point needs to be recast here. The (re)presentation of class relations in Central Asia is a theoretical activity that remains largely absent within Central Asia Studies. Mainstream Central Asian studies has scant theoretical regard for the multi-complexities of the process of (re)presenting changing class relations in Central Asia, nor its attendant reflective theorizing. Such reflective theorizing, one that focuses on (re)presentations as part of a Central Asia-lying process recognizes that representations are produced, contested, and transformed through an immense range of socio-political and discursive processes, strategies, and struggles that cannot be derived from any single encompassing dynamic. Theoretical accounts of Central Asian politico-social phenomena that absent the social space of class relations induces a lop-sided Central Asian paradigm.

Insisting on the historicity of the class relations space is essential for the study of Central Asian polities and society. Class relations are too often seen as spatial fixtures, subordinate lines overwritten by the pre-eminent focus on state building, a passive and pre-given ground on which state-building phenomena in post-Soviet Central Asia is given a continual standing ovation. However, if we think of spatiality as an aspect of social class relations that is continually being reconfigured, the social class relations landscape becomes much more significant. It is here where the strategy of (re)presenting class relations can be dramatized and paraded. It is also here where countervailing strategies contesting mainstream analyses of Central Asian theorizing could be clustered. The struggle between these mainstream and alternative strategies could eventually reconstruct Central Asia Studies until the prefix of post becomes inevitable, just as it does for those engaged in post-disciplinary methods of analysis in other studies. There is little that is passive about the potential for research on Central Asia. The point generally missed, however, is that the spatiality of Central Asian class relations is forever taking on new shapes, and scholars of the field need to engage with these transformations. Indeed, (re)presented analyses on class relations in the post-Soviet Central Asian space could loosen the grip of the state-building historical narrative as it would provide a corrective to the current centricity of state-building analyses.

Contemporary Central Asia Studies does not usually provide strategic sites for research on how particular linear histories become theoretically constituted. The struggle over redefinitions in Central Asia Studies is not intense or highly visible, even though ongoing re-assessments of state building in the light of globalization/neo-imperialism have made re-assessment even more salient. Studying the politics of class relations in Central Asia urges us to be more precise about the concept of lived relations itself, to explore more carefully the genealogies and contents of the many metaphors of class relations that are floating on the surface, but have yet to be netted within the field of Central Asia Studies.

(Re)presented class relations, then, is hardly acknowledged in contemporary Central Asian Studies, or in Central Eurasian Studies. (31) The sociological imagination of Central Asia Studies scholars is obviously important because it has an impact on understandings of social, cultural and material realities, and, to varying degrees, ultimately on those realities themselves. However, it is the political imaginations of groups involved in particular social struggles--their consciousness of webs of class relations of different levels and sizes in which they are involved in and/or their exclusion from power--that determine their political strategies.

A final, crucial point: Central Asian Studies' overwhelming and lopsided focus on Central Asian state building demonstrates how Central Asian Studies has to struggle with state-building simplifications, has to struggle with the tendency inherent in mainstream research to represent that slice of social reality that interests the Eurocentric observer. (32)


Within a number of commentator accounts of Central Asian affairs, there is speculation and inference, and extrapolations beyond forms of evidence(s). Some accounts do however base their writings on an indispensable armory of evidence in support of Central Asia's deep socio-economic and political problems. Outside of the academy, Martha Brill Olcott, who has traveled extensively in the region once cut to the chase by stating: 'much like their first efforts at state building, there is little likelihood that even now the Central Asian states will get it right. The Soviet-era leaders still in power in these countries show no more ... inclination to promote political transitions than they did previously ... the international community has done little to change the mind-set of these leaders.'" But change was afoot: 'the increased US military presence, combined with Washington's claimed willingness to spend more foreign aid dollars in this part of the world, might have served as an opportunity to jump start their stalled reform process.' (34)

This trajectory usually continues along the lines that the US has thus far failed in this endeavor, and for Central Asia to capitalize on its second chance (post 9/11) a combination of outside help, the leaders' willingness to change and the populations' willingness to endure the dislocations of economic and political transitions is required.

A major problem for Olcott is the fragmented nature of the Central Asia region (a charge that to a lesser degree can be laid at the door of the South Caucasus). Most importantly, the states in Central Asia do not act in concert in terms of their common interest(s); there is no regional market to speak of. Olcott is critical of the US for not engaging in the region. But if Central Asian states and those right across Central Eurasia themselves do not act in terms of a common regional interest(s) nor promote a sustainable regional market, why then is it any wonder that the US continues to act more often than not on a bilateral basis. It is apparent that the Central Asian region is far more problematic and diverse than Olcott's views.

Selected accounts of the politics and societies of the region, furthermore, are at times naive in that they do not acknowledge, as Cox reiterates, 'an implicit theory in their own works'--not necessarily an overposition to which the region is assimilated, but a theory of what it is to recount the political life, the socio-political regional processes and the lived relations in this region. (35)

Central Asia is constantly reorganized and (re)presented by commentators such as Olcott. Nevertheless, such contemporary political accounts of change in the region at crucial times fail to acknowledge diversity and fluidity and instead frustratingly exert unifying pressures through constant narrative intrusions that falsify the picture: employment. If particularity is a problem, so is generality.

In a broad sense, a more profitable approach would include skepticism towards claims of rapid change in Central Asia and of a New Great Game, and an engagement with interdisciplinary influences and theoretical insights derived from other fields of knowledge.

Within a broad spectrum, the sites and negotiated spaces of narratives of political consciousness on Central Asia are not reducible to the customary co-ordinates of unifying narratives based on Central Asian state building. Spaces that are, moreover, more fragile, ephemeral and amorphous than those formulated by contemporary accounts of the totality of political change in the region. Political consciousness at the level of ideology and social class is an undeveloped terrain in Central Asia Studies.

Conceiving the Central Asian state and society in narrative terms allow us to speak of it in a more tentative and less totalizing manner, it permits us to remember that the nation state is always an un-finished, incomplete task. Structured in such a way, it remains always ready to absorb the varied and ambivalent cultural strands that, in the process are always re-forming and reformulating the nation. This is one reason why there can never be a fixed narrative of the nation.

A further example of skewed inheritance that the discipline suffers from is a wonky compass point, which makes clear that the territories included in this region fall into three massive areas: the northern, northeastern and southern. Yet, only with reservations can we call the Aral Sea area and the area adjacent to it a geographical segment that is common to the entire region. The interaction between the Pamir Mountains and the river system and deserts of Turkmenistan is more organic, but then these are not connected to the northern lands. It appears that there was no common economic system for the peoples who settled in these lands; no system linked the nomads of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan with the settled dwellers of the other territories. Their external economic links were directed more outside the region than inside it. There are, furthermore, no fixed regional borders between the ethnic groups living in i Central Asia. There is no great watershed between 'Soviet' Uzbeks, Tajikistani, Turkmen and those who share the same faith in countries to the south and east, such as Afghanistan, Iran and China. On the other hand, Wilhelm Barthold, Andre Gunder Frank, S.A.M. Adshead, and David Christian, have illustrated the complementary relationship between the steppe and the oasis in Central Asia. (36)

Another inherited conclusion furthermore focuses on the community of Muslim Turkic speakers, based in the Central Asian heartland and bound together by close family ties which remain a major defining feature. Language also shapes identity in Central Eurasia, (37) particularly as the native language of ninety percent of Central Asians is one or another form of a Turkic language.

The authoritarianism of the settled peoples of Central Asia in general and Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in particular is another example of the discipline's inheritance, and the subject of a good deal of research in Central Asia Studies. A number of scholars have noted that the regimentation and centralization required for the peaceful functioning of the society inhabiting the irrigated oasis shaped the structure of power. Although largely discounted, Karl Wittfogel offered a number of insights with regard to the origins of 'Oriental despotism.' From an Orientalist perspective, he argued that the demands that emerged from the necessity to manage centrally an irrigation system produced a socio-political organization that Wittfogel characterized as the 'hydraulic society.' (38) Wittfogel's reductionist thesis was that unlike the individualistic political culture that develops in many water-rich agrarian societies, semiarid agricultural societies often require a high level of centralized decision-making. These demands on the hydraulic society result in the emergence of the 'managerial state.' The economic, administrative, and political functions of the managerial state are concentrated in a ruling class consisting of landowners, land managers, and the military. In the semiarid oases and valleys of Central Asia, the value of land has always been closely linked to its water supply. Highly political decisions are made regarding the distribution of water that has to be enforced. The mirab, the water master of the Central Asian societies, was responsible not only for managing an economic resource, but was also responsible for channeling the lifeblood of the society. In Wittfogel's largely neglected analysis, however, his ruling elite are not analyzed in social class terms.

A further inheritance factors-in the reforming Soviet Union in which, according to Gleason, 'Central Asia was the area most unaffected by Gorbachev's reforms under perestroika.' (39) An inherited, major reason for this and which figures in anthropological research is usually located in local political idioms: the tradition of patriarchy, popular submissiveness, deference to authority and to elders, and weak democratic traditions. Reference to the specific cultural, historical, religious, and demographic characteristics of local societies predating Soviet rule have been covered by, for example, the works of Shahram Akbarzadeh, Vitaly Naumkin, Sergei Poliakov, Pauline Jones Luong, and Shireen Akiner, (40) amongst others. The most visible aspect of the public culture of these countries is the great importance associated with hurmat, the idea of 'deference' or 'respect.' Hurmat begins in the family where women are subordinated, and where the structure of authority is patriarchal. Kinship structures, furthermore, are of crucial importance in the formation of Central Asian identities. Clans are extended family relationships that encompass real or putative blood ties, but the class interests in the make-up of these clans, once again, is rarely recognized as an anchor of analysis.

Inherited analyses of Central Asia in Central Eurasia also take into account the process of integration and disintegration taking place between the Southern Urals and the Indian Ocean.

One primary factor in analyses of the region is the question of Central Asia's relations with Russia. This leads to a further, inherited authentic problematic, in brief, that the Central Asian republics are ultimately faced with alternative developmental paths: either integrating into a common space with Russia or distancing them selves from the former hegemon country.


As noted, Central Asia is constantly (re)positioned and reinterpreted by analysts and that accounts of change in the region at times fail to acknowledge variety, volatility and mutability. This is particularly so with accounts of the process of traditionalism versus modernization in Central Asia, a dynamic that hitherto is employed as a linear trajectory set in static timespace configurations. (41)

Undeveloped political narratives on Central Asia, furthermore, tend to overemphasize change in the region, change that simply moves in one direction; that occupies one time-space design. Change can and has occurred for instance within a backwards, sideways and reactionary context. That is, within a re-activated socio-political trajectory moving forwards towards modernization and backwards, especially with regard to medievalist conceptions of ethnic identity, a trajectory moving to the side with regard to a sense of clanhood and a trajectory reaching into the past that stresses the subservient status of women. The picture then is obviously rather more complex than say, forces for and against modernity.

The states of Central Asia are essentially redeployed neo-communist states. There is of course much more to it than this. The predominant inherited Central Asian narrative explains that Central Asian states as a whole are going through a rebuilding process; this process is inextricably entangled within global and regional forces which shape and condition the type of state building, and the type of economies and foreign relations which gradually underwrite the state identity of each republic. (42) This is why institution building, state foreign relations, trade policies and economic development are not seen in isolation. It is the relationship of these phenomena with each other that mark out their importance. This inherited core narrative concludes by stating the fact that there are no current wars in Central Asia, which is testimony to the fact that it is a relatively stable region.

This inherited exploration of aspects of the politics of Central Asia readily unveils developmental trajectories that create a series of 'acceptable' realities, a pattern that is cross-referenced with interlinking research publications that form in their entirety a coherent map. In this modest sense the Central Asian paradigm speaks and offers up its wares; it says that significant understandings without analysis of social class relations, oligarchy and local imperialisms is the way. Indeed, this promise is followed through with a whole body of coherent and robust analyses representing western research and is forthcoming from signaling stations such as Colombia University, University of Reading, Melbourne University, and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London amongst others. Inclusive salient markers in their field of Central Asian Studies, for example, have included:

Central Asia occupying a viable and pivotal geopolitical terrain, and an emerging geoeconomic as well as a geocultural space; a particular political and geographic space that shares an historic space with other regions, but as a cartographic location, however, is not malleable or usually viewed as subject to slippage.

The Central Asian space has been forged not simply by the collapse of the Soviet Union but by two decades of international financial and industrial interest in the natural resources in the area, the political will of the sole remaining superpower, competing regional strategic interests, including energy security in the Caspian region (43) and the development of electronic communications.

Central Asia has predominantly neo-communist elites which are underpinned by the influence of clantocracy in the region, especially in Turkmenistan (44) and Kazakhstan. (45) The nature of power in Central Asian states based on patterns of patronage with a top-down style of decision making, usually twinned with endemic corruption.

Secular authoritarianism of the political systems in Central Asia remains in situ, although with opposition in the form of, for example, parliamentary opposition and institutional reform in Kyrgyzstan, (46) and environmental and Islamic political movements, the latter especially in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and in the south of Kyrgyzstan. (47)

Evolving and effective regional political processes that maintain a balance and peace between competing forces--eg as in Tajikistan, (48) and between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.

Russia is the major geopolitical power in the region and when it feels necessary Moscow has the capability to use its natural energy resources and control over pipelines as an influence in regional diplomacy. (49) Moscow's strategic goal in the region is to continue to attempt to forge a common economic base that favors the interests of Russian capital. Russia also is a security provider advanced through regional organizations and on a bilateral basis. Russian and Chinese active regional strategies use regional organizations to complement bilateral relations continue apace.

Turkey has made steady progress in terms of trade and cultural exchanges with Central Asia but has lacked the capabilities to have a stronger influence in the region, despite the West's initial backing. (50) The principle objective of Turkish foreign policy towards the republics in Central Asia is conceived as helping these countries to become secular democracies, and progressing towards a market economy: in short, to adopt Turkey as a model on the bases of mutual advantage. While pursuing these policy goals, Turkey is careful to assure Russia that its links with the Turkish Republics do not have pan-Turkish implications. This two-pronged strategy, more or less, became the official line of Turkey's policy towards the new republics in Central Asia.

Iran, after a series of lackluster diplomatic initiatives in the region finally formulated a comprehensive foreign policy towards Central Asia in the mid-1990s, (51) is succeeding in developing relations with Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and China. (52) The Islamic Republic of Iran continues to regard Azerbaijan, which is home to twice as many Azeris as Azerbaijan, with suspicion not least because of western involvement in Azerbaijan and the possible threat of pan-Azerbaijani nationalism. (Baku regards Tehran with suspicion because of its sensitivity to indigenous and Iranian-inspired Islamist activities). (53)

The malleableness of islam as a predominantly regional religion and culture; Islam as a formative building block in identity construction, (54) along with nationalism and ethnicity. (55)

Cooperation as well as competition in both bilateral and multilateral contexts is the driving motor of regional security in Central Asia. (56)

Extreme social and ecological problems persist, namely the increased spread of HIV/AIDS, organized crime, people trafficking, the narcotics trade in Tajikistan, environmental pollution (57) and water issues (58) where there is a lack of legal infrastructure to deal with inequitable water distribution issues in the region.

China, the new-power-on-the block, is engaged in Central Asia primarily for the region's energy resources (as in Africa) which is necessary for fuelling its industrialization and China has a Central Asian policy of quan mian hua (comprehensiveness). (59) The Middle Kingdom's expanding relationship with Kazakhstan, eg Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev's fifteenth visit to China (February 21-23, 2011) since Kazakhstan's independence, a relationship resting on expanding energy collaboration and rapidly growing cooperation in areas as diverse as manufacturing, shipbuilding, transport, technology, and trade. (60)

India gradually positioning itself as a regional influence. (61)

South Korea, and Japan (a major donor to Kyrgyzstan) as active, investors in the region, along with strengthening Israeli-Azerbaijani relations. (62)

Democratic rights in the Central Asian states remain curtailed and the media lacks independence in Central Asia, and is especially restricted in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. (63)

In the best of scenarios, the Central Asian states will democratize piece-meal fashion probably with Kyrgyzstan leading the way on condition that the division in country between north and south is bridged. Turkmenistan's democratization in part tied in with the deconstruction of the cult of personality of its former president, Saparmurat Niyazov along with concrete cooperation between the main kinship-based communities represented by the Akhalteke, Iomud, Ersary, and other tribes.

These selected inheritances that the discipline passes down at the same time absents, as noted above, not only analysis of post-Soviet class relations, but also the excluded theoretical perspective that the proclivity of the Central Asian system of politics inclines towards oligarchy rather than democracy. A system of politics that can of course be traced to Aristotle. (64) A Pareto-bound circulation of elites (65) furthermore that functions essentially in its own interests, rather than in its 'official aims,' as Michels argues, (66) and the 'inherent tendency' of Central Asian relations to develop an oligarchy, as in the structure of the international system in general, according to Bandyopadhyaya. (67) Along with an absence of analysis on local imperialisms, these considerations continue to be largely excluded from recent publications on the region. (68)


'No serious student of Central Asia can avoid studying Russian and Soviet history and politics'--All F. Igmen and Daniel C. Waugh. (69)

The trials of the Central Asian state's independence are inextricably linked to the region's colonial past and its subjugation within the Soviet Union. Soviet Central Asia underwent rapid change, from agricultural to modern, and from nomadic animal husbandry to heavy industrial engineering within a single generation. Only the indigenous inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula, after the discovery of oil, experienced such a rapid shift. So many of the problems afflicting Central Asian states today can be traced to their Soviet roots. Central Asian states have in general worked hard to install a primary sense of nationality amongst its citizenry, a procedure made all the more difficult by a Soviet-engineered lack of national awareness and unity which has made national consolidation a difficult task. This overview forms an affirmed substratum within studies on Central Asia and in part marks the discipline with an authentic foundation.

Marking the discipline as a field that affirms, as in the above example, omits and declares particular logics, insists on demarcation and demands ordered constraint, means that Central Asia Studies thus is an autonomous, authentic objective structure wrought by scholarship into preferred realities. It is, moreover, a discipline internally strengthened by its multi-channels of communication. However, methodologies that aim to tease out a multidisciplinary interpretation do not characterize the Central Asian field, neither its practice nor its system. Moreover, the field's broader being could be understood as a scholarship system or cynically as carriere ouverte aux talents.

The field's core focus on Central Asian state building and ethnicity and religion as primary identity markers furthermore is more of an arrangement, a consensus among western scholars. This scholarly arrangement is justified by claims to universality and impersonality. In a specific sense, the intellectual activity of the Central Asian field seen as textual activity gathers its wares amidst its inherited core concerns which in turn form a community of texts; an inter-textual reality that bridges distances between texts with core assumptions and suppositions. This pervasive law of motion is a sleeping giant that can be awoken by, for example, a counter theoretical trajectory in the face of which the community of texts suddenly coalesces like a band of sisters and brothers, gathers the field around its core concerns, and lends the core concerns viability and validity. This gives a structural pattern to its hub of concerns, which conditions the content of Central Asia field's activities. Core concerns are communicated and connected across this lattice and are given legs to walk as constructions extended chronologically over a given regional space.

Within the international politics of Central Asia, geopolitical overviews or surveys have traditionally held their ground. Unlike theories of post-geopolitics which readily cohabitate with a burgeoning interest in geocultural affairs and geo-economics, traditional geopolitical analysis remains aloof, it does so to its own detriment. Once an organizing concept, the geopolitical conception of a New Great Game in the region for example has now more or less been discredited. This perspective, once espoused by Zbigniew Brzezinski (70) among others (71) has become cliched, is fatally flawed and simplifies what is in reality a complicated matrix of socio-political phenomena within both Central Asia and the outer Central Eurasian theatre. This traditional, inherited perspective, along with its romantic Great Powers-can-do-rhetoric is no longer applicable to today's competition between various state or oil and gas company interests in the region.

During the past two decades, narratives on political identity in the region--the politics of identity--have offered a number of insights into conceptions of Central Asia but also, at the same time, remain highly problematic. (72) Paradigm consensus is clear at a rudimentary level: that identity entails the construction of a meaningful universe of events and narratives for a collectively defined subject. Identity furthermore, is underscored by ethnicity and quite simply ethnicity is expressed as heritage or as cultural descent, learned by each individual and distinctive precisely at the level of individual and collective behavior. This notion of identity, however, remains weak if we note that Central Asian cultural descents and heritage are not raw, neutral handme-down lived relations, but are negotiated, fought-over identity processes which are liable to change. The making and unmaking of Soviet Man is a case in point. (73)

Although Central Asia remains ensnared in geographist ideology, a 'subjective vision,' to use Jeremy Black's phrase, (74) replacing fixed and abrupt lines on a flat Central Asian surface would indicate a post-disciplinary analysis in a post-Central Asia Studies environment where, for instance, shifting patterns of buffer entities are located. Although an idea that has been around for some time, could we still use the Turkic Uyghur buffer entity between Central Asia and Inner China (itself distinct from coastal China) as a point in case, just as the Latino buffer entity is for some, including Kaplan, arguably replacing a precise US-Mexico border? (75) And to this cartographic hologram one could add other major factors, such as migrations of populations and the attendant demographic problems, (76) explosions of birth rates, and vectors of disease that effect Central Eurasia.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Central Asia Studies received a boost in the western academy, not least in terms of interest in the region and in research funding. However, the discipline's current lack of prowess to broaden its horizons from the all-embracing state-building and ethnicity-asidentity fix to such analyses as the region's proclivity towards oligarchy rather than democracy, its structural changes under the impact of local imperialisms, and its social class dynamic could renders the discipline undeveloped. With regard to the first of these, the predatory nature of the political strategies of a small and closed Central Asian oligarchy stifles progress in the region towards democratization, while the last of these, the social class dynamic has been under utilized, for instance in understanding the 2010 inter-ethnic clashes in Kyrgyzstan.

The field of Central Asia Studies requires an engagement that goes beyond the circled wagons of state building theories; beyond transition theory and identity politics theorizing, beyond pedestrian anthropological rundowns and beyond lineated theories of regional history, otherwise the field could mislay itself. This critique is one that perhaps flaps around the heads of scholars on Central Asia like a loose sail, but one they neither see nor hear. If they do hear, perhaps they mistake it for something else,just as perchance they mistakenly hear what sounds like a rip of silk, but in fact is a flap of the wings of a crow passing above. Indeed, the biggest danger for the discipline could be, finally, and to one of losing itself so it would pass off in the academic world as quietly as if it was of little consequence. Every other loss, a lack of funding, a closing down of a Department or two, a shortfall in postgraduate research students etc is bound to be noticed.


(1.) Edward W. Said, Orientalism (London: Penguin, 1978), p. 50.

(2.) N. Chomsky, American Power and New Mandarins (London: Macmillan, 1969), p. 271.

(3.) T. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 2nd edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), p. 31.

(4.) Gita Sen and Caren Grown, Development Crises and AlternativeVisions: Third Worlds Women's Perspectives (New York: Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), 1986). Rebecca Grant, "The Quagmire of Gender and International Security," in V. S. Peterson (ed.), Gendered States (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1992) pp. 44-55. Wendy Brown, Manhood and Poltics: A Feminist Reading in Political Theory (Totowa, N J: Rowman and Littlefield, 1988). Christine Sylvester, Feminist Theory and International Relations in a Postmodern Era (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994). N. Kabeer, Reversed Realities: Gender Hierarchies in Development Thought (London: Verso, 1994). A. Tickner, "On the Fringes of the World Economy: A Feminist Perspective," in C. Murphy and R. Tooze (eds.), The New International Political Economy (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1991) pp. 34-42.

(5.) Daniel Yergin, Shattered Peace (London: Macmillan, 1990), p. 26.

(6.) W.R. Fisher, "Narration as Human Communication Paradigm: The Case of Public Moral Argument," Communication Monographs 51 (1984), 1-22.

(7.) T. Todorov, Grammaire du Decameron (The Hague: Mouton, 1969), p. 12.

(8.) E.W. Sievers and Oleg Tsaruk, "The Convention to Combat Desertification: An NGO perspective from Central Asia," Aridlands Newsletter 41 (1997), Newsletters section, Aridlands website: No_41 Sievers & Tsaruk The CCD, Central Asian NGO perspective.html.

(9.) Alex Stringer, "Soviet Development in Central Asia: the classic colonial syndrome?" in Tom Everett-Heath (ed.), Central Asia, Aspects of Transition (London: RouteledgeCurzon, 2003) pp. 146-166. Edward Allworth (ed.), Central Asia: 100 years of Russia Dominance, A Historical Overview. 3rd edition (Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 1994).

(10.) F. Acar and A. Gunes (eds.), Gender and Identity Construction: Women of Central Asia, the Caucasus and Turkey (Leiden: Brill Press, 2000).

(11.) M. Kamp, The New Woman in Uzbekistan: Islam, Modernity and Unveiling under Communism (Washington, DC: University of Washington Press, 2006). M. Kamp, "Gender Ideals and Income Realities: Discourses about Labor and Gender in Uzbekistan," Nationalities Papers 33:3 (2005), 403-422. M. Kamp, "Gender Studies in Central Asia. Items & Issues," Social Science Research Council 5:1-2 (2004), 24-26.

(12.) Z. Bauman, Liquid Modernity (London: Polity Press, 2000), p. 42.

(13.) See Michael B. Bishku, "The South Caucasus Republics and the Muslim Middle East: Political and Economic Imperatives," Mediterranean Quarterly, 21:3 (Summer 2010), 26-46. Michael B. Bishku, "The South Caucasus Republics and Israel," Middle Eastern Studies 45:2 (March 2009), 295-314.

(14.) Christopher Boucek, "Iran Spy Trial Highlights Israeli-Central Asian Security Relations," Analyst, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute website:

(15.) See, for example Ahmed Rashid, "The New Struggle in Central Asia: A Primer for the Baffled," World Policy Journal 17:4 (2001), 41-43. Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001).

(16.) S. Keller, "Islam in Soviet Central Asia, 1917-1930: Soviet Policy and the Struggle for Control," Central Asian Survey 11:1 (1992), 25-50.

(17.) Robert Cutler, "The Complexity of Central Eurasia," Central Eurasian Studies Review 3, 1:3 (2004), 2-3.

(18.) D. Power and N. Standen (eds.), Frontiers in Question: Eurasian Borderlands, 700-1700 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999).

(19.) Barbara Adams, Timescapes of Modernity (London: Routledge, 1998).

(20.) Martin W. Lewis and Karen Wigen, The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), p. 4.

(21.) H. Mackinder, "The geographical pivot of history," Geographical Journal 3 (1904), 421-37.

(22.) A.Z. Hilali, "Central Asia Meets the Middle East," Journal of Third World Studies XIX: 1 (2000), 95-100. S. M. Hanifi, "The Middle East and Central Asia: An Anthropological Approach," Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ) 21:2 (1999), 106-110.

(23.) A.M. Parvizi (ed.), The Greater Middle East in Global Politics: Social Science Perspectives on the Changing Geography of the World Politics (Leiden: Brili, 2007), pp. 425-439.

(24.) See Edward W. Said's work Orientalism and K. Windschuttle, "Edward Said's 'Orientalism' Revisited," New Criterion. Britannica website:,5744,336783,00.html

(25.) Such as R. G. Suny, The Revenge of the Past: Nationalism, Revolution and the Collapse of the Soviet Union (Stan., CA: Stanford University Press, 1994).

(26.) For example, Gregory Gleason, The Central Asian Slates: Discovering Independence (Boulder, Col: Westview Press, 1997). Gregory Gleason, Markets and Politics in Central Asia (London: Routledge, 2003). Olivier Roy, The New Central Asia: The Creation of Nations (New York: New York University Press, 2000). William Fierman, (ed.) Soviet Central Asia: The Failed Transformation (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1991).

(27.) All Banuazizi and Myron Weiner (eds.), The New Geopolitics of Central Asia and its Borderlands (London/New York: Routledge, 1994). Z. Zardykhan, "Kazakhstan and Central Asia: regional perspectives," Central Asian Survey 21:2 (2002), 167-183. K. Dawisha and B. Parrott, Conflict, cleavage, and change in Central Asia and the Caucasus (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997). R. Lowe, "Nation building and identity in the Kyrgyz Republic," in Tom Everett-Heath (ed.), Central Asia, Aspects of Transition pp. 106-131.

(28.) See for example C. Humphrey and D. Sneath (eds.), Culture and Environment in Inner Asia (Cambridge, UK: White Horse Press, 1996). S. Whitfield, Life along the Silk Road (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999). L. Boulnois, Silk Road: Monks, Warriors and Merchants on the Silk Road (Hong Kong: Odyssey, 2004).

(29.) E. Adler, "Seizing the Middle Ground--Constructivism in World Politics," European Journal of International Relations 3:3 (1997), 441-473.

(30.) M.E. Louw, Everyday Islam in Post-Soviet Central Asia (London: Routledge, 2007). J. Sahadeo, J. and Z. Russell (eds.), Everyday Life in Central Asia: Past and Present (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007).

(31.) Leonard Stone, "Research Developments in Central Eurasian Studies," Central Asian Survey 24:4 (2005), 441-451.

(32.) K.A. Erturk (ed.), Rethinking Central Asia: Non-Eurocentric Studies in History (Reading, UK: Ithaca Press, 1999).

(33.) Martha Brill Olcott, Central Asia's Second Chance (Washington DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005), p. 157.

(34.) Ibid., p. 2.

(35.) R. Cox, "Social forces, states and world orders: beyond international relations theory," Millennium l0 (1981), 128.

(36.) See for example, Andre Gunder Frank, Re-Orient: Global Economy in the Asian Age (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1998).

(37.) A. Segars, "Nation building in Turkey and Uzbekistan: the use of language and history in the creation of national identity," in Tom Everett-Heath (ed.), Central Asia, Aspects of Transition pp. 80-105.

(38.) Karl A. Wittfogel, Oriental Despotism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957), p. 22.

(39.) Gregory Gleason, The Central Asian States: Discovering Independence p. 38.

(40.) S. Akbarzadeh, "Geopolitics versus Democracy in Tajikistan," Demokratizatsiya 4 (2002), 16-28. V. Naumkin, "Uzbekistan's State-Building Fatigue," The Washington Quarterly 29:3 (2006), 127-140. S. poliakov, Everyday Islam: Religion and Tradition in Rural Central Asia (London: M. E. Sharpe, 1992). P. J. Luong, Institutional Change and Political Continuity in Post-Soviet Central Asia: Power, Perceptions, and Pacts (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002). Shirin Akiner, "The Politicisation of Islam in Postsoviet Central Asia," Religion, ,State & Society 31:2 (2003), 97-101.

(41.) Modernization, however, that is not linear and has gone through various phases: from secularization of authority in the wake of the industrial revolution (from traditional to secular-rational) and to arguably the post-industrial.

(42.) See for example, B. Z. Rummer (ed.), Central Asia and the New Global Economy (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2000).

(43.) A.M. Parvizi H. Houweling (eds.), Globalization, Geopolitics and Energy Security in Central Eurasia and the Caspian Region (The Hague: Clingendael Energy, 2003). W. Rackza, "A sea or a lake? The Caspian's long odyssey," Central Asian Survey 19:2 (2000), 189-221.

(44.) A.L. Edgar, Tribal Nation: The Making of Soviet Turkmenistan (New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 2003).

(45.) E. Schatz, Modern Clan Politics: The Power of "Blood" in Kazakhstan and Beyond (Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 2004).

(46.) M. Baimyrzaeva, "Institutional reforms in Kyrgyzstan," Central Eurasian ,Studies Review 4:1 (2005), 29-35.

(47.) J.N. Trisko, "Coping with the Islamist Threat: analysing repression in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan," Central Asian Survey 24:2 (2005), 375-380.

(48.) B.R. Rubin, "The Tajikistan Peace Agreement," Eurasianet. Articles section. Eurasianet website: resource/regional/rubinintro.html. Olivier Roy, "The Role of the OCSE in the Peace Process of Tajikistan," Eurasianet. Articles section. Eurasianet website:

(49.) L. Jonson, Vladimir Putin and Central Asia: The Shaping of Russian Foreign Policy (New York: I. B. Tauris, 2004).

(50.) O. Guvenen,"Turkey's Medium and Long-Term Strategic Objectives: TR 2007/15-TR 2017/9," Perceptions: Journal of International Affairs IV:4. Articles section. Sam website: perceptions/Volume4/December1999 February2000/guvenen.PDF. M. Mufti, "Daring and Caution in Turkish Foreign Policy," Middle East Journal 52:1 (1998), 34-40.

(51.) S. Chubin, "Iran's Strategic Predicament," The Middle East Journal 54:1 (2000), 44-52.

(52.) Ertan Efegil and Leonard Stone, "Iran's Interests in Central Asia: a Contemporary Assessment," Central Asian Survey 20:3 (2001), 353-365.

(53.) Michael B. Bishku, "The South Caucasus Republics and the Muslim Middle East: Political and Economic Imperatives," 26-27.

(54.) O. Carre (ed.), Islam and the ,State in the Worm Today (New Delhi: Sangam Books, 1988). O. Carre and P. Dumont, Radicalismes islamiques. (2 Vols)(Paris: L'Harmattan, 1986). Leonard Stone, "The Islamic Crescent: Islam, Culture and Globalisation," Innovation; The European Journal of Social Science Research 15:2 (2002), 121-131.

(55.) A. Khazanov, After the USSR: Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Politics in the Commonwealth of Independent ,States (Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995). D. Fane, "Ethnicity and Regionalism in Uzbekistan," in Leokadia Drobizheva, Rose Gottemoeller, Catherine McArdle Kelleher and Lee Walker (eds.), Ethnic Conflict in the post-Soviet World: Case Studies and Analysis (Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1996) pp. 24-37.

(56.) K.E. Meyer and S. B. Brysac, Tournament of Shadows: The Great Game and the Race for Empire in Central Asia (New York: Counterpoint Press, 2002). M. B. Olcott, 1996. Central Asia's New States: Independence, Foreign Policy, and Regional Security (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, 1996).

(57.) L. Jailing, "Environmental issues in Central Asia: a source of hope or despair?" in Tom Everett-Heath (ed.), Central Asia, Aspects of Transition pp. 167-180.

(58.) K. Wegerich, "Water: the difficult path to a sustainable future for Central Asia," in Tom Everett-Heath (ed.), Central Asia, Aspects of Transition pp. 244-263.

(59.) R. Ong, "China's Security interests in Central Asia," Central Asian Survey 24:4 (2005), 425-439. J. R. Walsh, "China and the New Geopolitics of Eurasia," Asian Survey 33:2 (1993), 272-284.

(60.) Roman Muzalevsky, "Nazarbayev's visit to China Reveals Kazakhstan's Balancing Strategy," Analyst, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute website:

(61.) Leonard Stone, "India and the Central Eurasian Space," Journal of Third World Studies XXII, fall (2007), 183-193.

(62.) B. Aras,"Post-Cold War Realities: Israel's Strategy in Azerbaijan and Central Asia," Middle East Policy 5:4 (1998), 59-70.

(63.) Olivia Allison, "Central Asia's Restrictive Media System," Central Eurasian Studies Review 5:1 (2006), 19-24.

(64.) See The Politics of Aristotle. Trans. Benjamin Jowett (London: Colonial Press, 1900).

(65.) V. Pareto, The Mind and Society. Trans. Arthur Livingston (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1935).

(66.) R. Michels, "The Iron Law of Oligarchy," Online Dictionary of Sociology. Athabasca University website: http ://www.oligarchy\onlinedictionaryoligarchy.htm.

(67.) J. Bandyopadhyaya, World Government for International Democracy (Howrah, In.: Manuscript India, 2002), p. 7.

(68.) Absent in, for example Dilip Hiro's work, Inside Central Asia: A Political and Cultural History of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Iran (London: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd, 2009), with its focus on ethnic tensions, religious intolerance and struggles for political identity. Absent in Olivier Roy's work, The New Central Asia: Geopolitics and the Creation of Nations (London: I.B.Tauris, 2007), with its geopolitical analysis of the new Central Asian states. Absent in Christopher Beckwith's book, Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2009), with its focus on the peoples of the Central Eurasian states and their civilizationing zeal. And absent in Rob Johnson's book, Oil, Islam and Conflict: Central Asia Since 1945 (London: Reaktion Books, 2007), which provides a regional perspective that analyses a range of issues including terrorism, counter-insurgency, energy security and the Central Asian governments.

(69.) Ali F. Igmen and Daniel C. Waugh, "Central Eurasia across the Curriculum and Beyond Institutional Walls: A Tale from Real Life," Central Eurasian Studies Review 4: 2, (Summer 2005), 43.

(70.) Z. Brzezinski and S. Paige (eds.), Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (Documents, Data, and Analysis) (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1997).

(71.) See for example P. Hopkirk, Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia (London: John Murray, 2006), p. xiii-xvii. For other great garners see M. Edwards, "The New Great Game and the new great gamers: disciples of Kipling and Mackinder," Central Asian Survey 22:1 (2003), 83-102.

(72.) See, A. Sengupta, Frontiers into Borders: The Transformation of Identities in Central Asia (New Delhi: Hope India Publications, 2002).

(73.) See Michael Heller, El Hombre Nuevo Sovietico/the New Soviet Man (New York: Planeta Pub Corp, 1985). Lynne Attwood, The New Soviet Man and Woman: Sex-Role Socialization in the USSR (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1991). John Haynes, New Soviet Man: Gender and Masculinity in Stalinist Soviet Cinema (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003). Mikhail Heller, Cogs in the Wheel." The Formation of Soviet Man (London: Alfred a Knopf, 1988). G. Smirnov, Soviet Man: The Making of a Socialist Type of Personality. Trans. R. Daglish (London: Central Books, 1973). Raymond A. Bauer, New Man in Soviet Psychology (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1952).

(74.) Jeremy Black, Maps and History: Constructing Images of the Past (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), p. 14.

(75.) R.D. Kaplan, "The Coming Anarchy," The Atlantic Monthly 6:12 (1994), 22.

(76.) See for example Hisao Koatsu, Obiya Chika and John Schoeberlein (eds.), Migration in Central Asia: Its History and Current Problems (Osaka: Japan Centre for Area Studies, 2000). Charles King and Nell J. Mervin, Nations Abroad." Diaspora Politics and International Relations in the Former Soviet Union (Boulder, Col: Westview Press, 1998).

* Dr. Leonard Stone achieved his doctorate from University of Wales. His publications are in International Relations, especially on Turkey and on Central Asia. Dr. Stone is a former visiting lecturer, Debrecen University, Hungary, Charles University, Czech Republic, Singapore Institute of Commerce, Jadavpur University, India and Head of Dept. at Lefke European University, Cyprus and at Auhm University, Turkey. Dr. Stone's postal address is: 5 Arbour Square, Stepney, London. El OSH. United Kingdom. His email: Journal of Third World Studies, Vol. XXIX, No. 1
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Title Annotation:OTHER PAPERS
Author:Stone, Leonard A.
Publication:Journal of Third World Studies
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Mar 22, 2012
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